There is one thing that owners should know and that is, dogs have their own minds. More often than not you will see yourself being led by your dog rather than walking your dog. Now try throwing in multiple dogs and walking them in a neat easy to manage fashion….not as easy right. In this article we give you 10 things you should know, that will make walking multiple dogs easier and give you more time to enjoy the walk.
Here is a list of 10 things you should know before walking multiple dogs
- Training Correct Leash Etiquette
- Use a Leash Splitting Extension
- Identify The Trouble Makers
- Use The Stop Command
- Use Body Leash Attachments
- Patience Will Help You Survive
- Be Aware Of Leash Positioning
- Why Do Dogs Zigzag When Walking
- Remember The Difference between Your Dogs
- Practise Makes Perfect
Walking multiple dogs can be a bit of a headache, but hopefully these tips will give you some confidence when your out and about with your furry friends. Read on to find out more about each one of our tips.
Training Correct Leash Etiquette
Ensuring that each your dog you are walking is adequately trained on the leash is a big help when walking multiple dogs. If one dog is not adequately trained then their etiquette will disrupt all the other dogs and you will end up in a big tangle.
Training your dog from an early age is always the best way to ensure a well behaved dog on the leash. When thinking about walking multiple dogs the one thing you don’t want an individual dog to do is pull. Pulling can cause other dogs in your pack to deviate from their positions create a big mess of tangled leads. Here is a quick step by step on how to train your dog not to pull on the leash. For a more detail check out our post on “How To Stop Your Dog Pulling On Leash”
- Ensure that your dog is not full of energy. Its best to start this training when your dog is not frustrated because they haven’t been out all day. A calmer dog will listen to you more and in the early stages this can be helpful.
- Ensure you have lots of treats to hand. Training dogs is simply a system of positive reinforcement, each treat is a way of telling your dog that they have done what you wanted them to do.
- Start your walk with your dog by your side and reward them for walking next to you (or on a loose leash). As soon as they pull instantly stop and tell them to come back towards you. As soon as the leash is loose reward them.
- When ever your dog walks with a loose leash give them a treat. Slowly they will realise that this is what is getting them the reward. If your dog starts to pull use a command like “gently”, “heel” or “nearby” to encourage them back. They will start to associate this word with receiving a treat and know what to do.
- Slowly phase out the treat giving over time whilst reinforcing the command you give them. They will start to do this as a habit and become less of a puller.
- Patience is key when training and keeping a persistent schedule with good continuity is vital.
Despite this being one of the most vital lead etiquette needed when walking multiple dogs, it always helps to have a pack of obedient dogs. Remember that one loose link in a chain will cause the whole system to fail. For more dog walking etiquette check out our post “Helpful Tips for Dog Walking Etiquette”
Use a Leash Splitting Extension
If you are walking multiple dogs having the correct equipment is vital for an easy walking experience. The main reason for a leash splitting extension is to prevent tangles whilst making it easier to untangle a group of dogs. The idea is that the main leash will be of normal length and coming off of that leash will be multiple other leads. These attachments will be shorter than the main leash giving more control to the walker.
There are of course limitations to how easy these leads make it for walking multiple dogs. the majority of lead splitters are designed to handle two dogs with some going as far as 3. However if you intend on walking More than 3 dogs at once you may need to have two different different leads or you can create your own lead by using some para- cord and swivel clips.
Walking Two Dogs At Once
Obviously the less dogs you are walking the easier it becomes to handle them. Dual leads are an easier solution to walking two dogs at once. Most have firm good quality handle with a swivel connection and two shorter leads coming off of the main one. These leads are inexpensive and make walking two dogs a breeze.
Walking Three Dogs At Once
Now things get a bit trickier with three dogs to handle. There are still anti-tangle leads available for three dogs, however they don’t tend to be as good as the dual ones for obvious reasons. Its still worth investing in one as it will make walking your dogs easier than with individual leads.
Walking More than Three Dogs At a Time
This one is for the pros, welcome to the big leagues. Walking more than 3 dogs is no easy thing to do and involves lots of patience. It is possible to create your own anti tangle leash, using a a swivel clasp and some short leashes or if you are great with knots para-cord. Although with some well behaved dogs this is a great option, to may still get tangled if your dogs want to cross over each other all the time. Two individual double leashes can work well if you put the most well behaved dogs on the inside of you this way the dogs that are prone to wondering wont be crossing over the leads.
Identify The Trouble Makers
Knowing what dogs are going to misbehave can help more than most people realise. Over time you will learn which dogs walk the best together and don’t cross over too much, putting those dogs together can solve your problem straight away. Ensure that the troublemakers are on the outside of the pack as you can more easily keep them on that side. If they are centred in the middle they are going to be attracted to each side as that’s where the best smells are, at least if they are already on one side you have half the problem to deal with.
Use The Stop Command
Having the stop command well ingrained into your pack of dogs can help to get you out of awkward situations. Being aware of troublesome events ahead is one thing, but being able to stop and think about what to do is another. If you are walking multiple dogs, each member of the pack should know the command stop or at the very least know when to stop walking forwards, if one dog doesn’t stop the others will likely follow. There tend to be a few different ways in which you can train your dog to stop, off lead will be slightly different to on lead but they are enforced in the same ways.
From personal experience I have found the treat method to be the best way of training a dog to stop. training your dog off leash will get the best results and you will be covered for both on lead and off lead walking. Here are some simple steps to help train your dog to stop when walking.
- Starting with your dog in front of you, either lying down or sitting, toss a small treat just beyond them bringing your hand up into a halt position. This method will allow your dog to familiarise your hand position with a treat.
- When your dog has realised your hand in this position means a treat is coming their way. You now want to put a distance between you and your dog. Try this until there is at least 3 or 4 meters between you and your dog.
- Next call them over to you without using any previous commands they know as this will confuse them, just using their name is sufficient.
- Before they reach you toss another treat behind them, raising your arm into the stop position and use the command “STOP”. Repeat this process until you are satisfied your dog understands what is going on.
- At this point you need to stop throwing treats every time your dog stops. When your dog obeys the command without you throwing a treat behind them, you can reward them with praise.
Note that training your dog is a game of patience and don’t be afraid to go back a step or re-introduce treats as needed. Despite this method working for myself and my dog other methods are also great to use, for a a look at some of the other methods used check out WagWalking for a great article on the emergency stop.
Use Body Leash Attachments
When walking multiple dogs there is one thing that will inevitably happen at some point and that’s pulling. Its vital to train your dogs not to pull but what if you are walking someone else’s dog and they are not as keen. Many times professional dog walkers attach their dogs to their waist giving them more control over an eager dog. Obviously if the dog is much bigger than your average pooch then you may want to reconsider this method. In my experience dogs tend to push boundaries but at the same time without hurting their owners. I know that my dog is much more delicate on the lead when he is attached to my body rather than me holding the lead handle. You can get belts that allow attachments and that also provide pockets for poo bags and treats. If your going to get a belt to attach your dogs to make sure it is a sturdy one as cheap belts with weak clips will soon see a pack of large dogs running free. There is also the option of tying some rope around your waist and attaching the lead or leads to this. This can be a good method of attachment but be sure to add padding around your waist as you could get rope burn if your dogs decide to suddenly chase a squirrel. Have a look at our article on “How to Stop your Dog Pulling On Leash”
Patience Will Help You Survive
As you already know training a dog requires patience, something that humans tend to lack. Patience is also required for walking multiple dogs. If you are fairly new to walking multiple dogs, give it time and you will soon discover the best ways and methods that work for you. If you are walking dogs that you don’t know that well, you will have to figure them out over time. All dogs tend to be different and each one will behave in a different way, the best advice for this is to learn and adapt to their behaviours.
Another benefit of being patient is to not walk your dogs too fast if you rush them they will often become frustrated and act out. Dogs want to sniff and investigate many things during their walk and so let them… just be sure to keep them in check when needed, for example dogs love to chase squirrels but that doesn’t mean we are going to let them.
Be Aware Of Leash Positioning
When walking multiple dogs, the position of leash can be a big help. As you are walking forwards keeping the leash in front will stop any unwanted tangles. Dogs do love to walk out in front but if they smell something they may drift behind you or slow down to investigate. Its not something that is going to ruin your walk but you should always be aware of the position of your dogs leash.
Why Do Dogs Zigzag When Walking
The main reason why dogs zigzag while out on a walk is because they are picking up smells along the trail. by moving from left to right it ensures they don’t miss a scent. it is also possible that your dog is following a scent already making sure he doesn’t lose in the mist of walking. To stop this behaviour is fairly easy for a single dog, however when your walking multiple dogs it can be trickier. Your dog will tend to want to investigate the other side of the pack as they will feel that they are missing out on all the great smells on that side. You can encourage you dog to stay on a certain side of you by using treats, teaching the dog that they have to stay on that side.
Remember The Difference between Your Dogs
When walking multiple dogs at once its important to remember that each dog is different. I’m not just talking about different breeds but the health and fitness of each dog. Below are some of the differences you may find between dogs, which should be taken note of and your walking methods adjusted to suit.
Older and Younger Dogs – As we all know ages makes a huge difference to how much we can do physically and the same goes for dogs. A veteran dog will most likely be less enthusiastic to move through the walk than a younger more able dog. It may also be the case that you cannot walk and should adjust the walk to suit this situation. Try stopping at a nearby field to let the younger dog have a good run around, that way both dogs get the amount of exercise they both need.
Different Breeds – The temperament of different breeds can vary dramatically as does their energy levels. You need to remember the difference between a border collie and a basset hound for example. One is bred to be a slow nose to the ground tracker and the other is bred to be alert at all times running miles in one day. Again your best option to manage this sort of thing is go to a park or large area suitable for dogs to run around in. This will give the border collie for example a chance to run around and burn off some of that natural energy they always seem to have.
Big Dogs and Small Dogs – Walking different sized dogs can be a challenge in itself and half the battle is ensuring that the small doesn’t get trampled under the larger dogs feet. I would try to avoid using a splitter if you are walking two large dogs and one small dog as the smaller dog is going to have a hard time being in such close quarters to two large dogs. Try using a separate lead, after all a small dog is extremely easy to control, keep them on the outside of the pack with more room than the others, this way you wont have an unnecessary injuries.
Practise Makes Perfect
Last but not least practise makes perfect. The more you walk with multiple dogs the more you will learn and in time you will gain essential knowledge that will help you walk not only your dogs but dogs you don’t know. Be patient in the training and take your time where needed. If you enjoyed this article check out some of our other post all about getting out and about with your dog.